For much of a day I spent trying to get a tail back from repeater and was unable. Although our simplex tests worked, my main hangup to getting a tail back from the repeaters I found was I needed to reduce the squelch so as not to block the weaker signals of our repeaters. I had been setting a squelch of a level of 5 as I have always used on other radios I have had, but found for this radio a level of 1 is best as programmed. The squelch range is programmable on this radio and I had changed it as suggested by Maklor.com to a different range. If I find I do not like the range suggested by them as I become more experienced as I use the radio with varying signals I have the opportunity to change it.
A local ham operator "Matt" from the Eugene 145.45- T123.0 repeater has welcomed us to use his repeater that sits on Blanton Heights 7 miles away. The signal is a bit weak from our HT (handhelds) and so we need to use all 7 watts to give the repeater a decent signal. The owner reports that as long as we speak up and directly to the mic it gives an adequate signal. As far as receiving, I do wish his signal wasn't buried in the white as it is, but it is a lower power repeater. I do hope to get access to a repeater that does not require full power to use and has less white noise, or better antennas. This repeater will do quite nice tho for practice with using a repeater before we add a higher power repeater to our goto list.
I am finding that I am using two of the stock 2800mAh batteries for all day listening with very few short 7watt transmissions. I am happy that when I bought the radios I purchased an extra battery pack for each of them. I also purchased 1(one) Alkaline battery pack for when away from power and a car power pack adaptor. So we hope we are all set for our emergency radio power needs.
I am considering some sort of dual band J-antenna to use with our radios to help in emergency situations to get out. I may just set one up here on our porch for better local communications. The disadvantage of a J antenna is it would need to be stationary to use. I would need to find one with a
For mobile use Baofeng suggests these Nagoya antennas that I am looking at. I am considering whether an 8.5 (more mobile) or a 16" (better range, but pretty long) antenna is wanted for better mobile operation. The radio came with an 6.5" antenna which in of itself is said to be an already a good stock antenna so I don't know that 8.5 inch is much better than the stock 6.5". Will 2"antenna difference really matter that much?
Also available is a 4" antenna that extends to 15.6" for transmitting. (Can not transmit when collapsed). I have used a 2m extendable antenna before with good success (It is mobile + some length for more distant reach). So many options to consider, I'll let you know if I ever pick one. For now the initial radio purchase is enough.